How to be quoted in website articles and blogs

For newbies to PR or those that are short on time, sharing a quote for someone else’s piece is a simple yet effective way to start. I was fortunate to be involved in a PR Moment magazine article where I shared my views on the PR industry.

The question was simple – “can you get rich working in PR?”

Rather than spending time researching or writing an entire piece, I contributed my thoughts in only 150 words. The magazine then puts the article together and promotes it to their audience when it goes live. My part was really rather simple but massively effective to get my name included in an industry magazine.

Another recent comment I shared was around how to be confident on new client calls. This is something a lot of small businesses and sole traders can find challenging. It’s hard to take control of the conversation and not have a big company to fall back on when there are tricky questions. I used to dread the telephone but fortunately learnt some tactics to now make it an enjoyable experience and was thrilled to share these with the magazine’s audience.

The Editor of the Underpinned magazine emailed me some questions to answer which took me around 10 minutes to write my answers and send back. They then pull out the best quotes that fit their piece and mentioned me each time I was quoted.

So, how do you do get your quote featured in someone else’s article?

These particular quotes were confirmed after I saw a shout out on social media. I follow the magazine Editors on Twitter and we’re connected on LinkedIn. This is not by accident.

I’m a Freelance Journalist but have spent the last decade working in PR, so as a PR trainer, I like to keep on top of industry news. I follow key people,  magazines, websites etc and registered for many PR and journalism news updates. This means I can reach out to the right people when I have an idea AND I can start to get on their radar too so when an opportunity does arise, they will hopefully recognise my name.

Here are my top tips on how to get a quote published in a website or blog but the same principle applies for other media such as magazines and newspapers too…

Keep an eye out

Follow influential journalists, editors, producers, media organisations etc on social media and keep an eye on the things they share and what they are talking about. Often the media will put call outs to hear from industry experts and that is when you can put yourself forward to be included.

Sign up for any newsletters that may be relevant too so you can keep an eye on what they’re publishing and if there could potentially be a place for you in the near future.

Get on their radar

Once you are following certain media outlets and their staff, you don’t have to wait until they ask to hear from people before you get in on their radar. Retweet their tweets, comment on their posts, tell them how much you enjoyed their last article.

Be quick

There are lots of people vying for media attention but if you react fast you have a much higher chance of being featured. If you see a shout out on social media to hear from an expert on topics you know inside out, do NOT wait 5 days to reply. 

Be easy to work with

Give the editor EVERYTHING they have asked for and then some. If they’ve asked for a quote, remember to add your headshot, bio and anything else that could be helpful to them.

It may be that they’ll be able to add your website or photos in the piece so it’s well worth sending in just in case. Don’t make them have to send 50 emails asking for things that could have all been sent right from the beginning.

Say thank you

Once the piece goes live, tag the person you organised the piece with and the media organisation itself in any social media posts when your quote goes live. It could be that you email to say the article looks great and send a thank you there.

However you do it, just remember a little thank you goes a LONG way. Be easy to work with, share the article and say thanks, and this could be what leads the editor to call you again when they need someone to talk about your expertise.

Voice of the self-employed

With businesses hitting the headlines during the global pandemic, I’ve been only too happy to contribute to the story and become a voice for the self-employed community. 

Financially, it’s been a tough year for many. Companies have faced closures, had to find new ways to create an income and many fell through the gaps for financial support. It’s no wonder that self-employment has been a hot topic in the news.

So it was my honour to represent the self-employed community and share my experiences and thoughts with the media during the past year.

Here are some of the media names I have appeared in the past few months…

The Telegraph - The Wave Awards 2020Quoted in the newspapers piece on “Fears for self-employed worked left high and dry by second emergency grant”.
(August 2020)

BBC Radio 4 - Today

Interviewed as part of their news piece on self-employment grant updates.
(October 2020)

BBC Radio 4 - Today

Interviewed as part of their news piece on self-employment grant updates.
(November 2020)

File:BBC Radio 5 Live.svg - Wikipedia

Interviewed live by presenter Tony Livesey for my take on the next financial grant updates.
(January 2021)

File:BBC.svg - Wikimedia Commons

Invited on the show as a guest to represent the self-employed in a debate.
(February 2021)

Pitching to journalists

When pitching to journalists, companies quite often will just email an introduction to their business and expect the journalist will do something with that.

There is a knack to pitching and the good news is that YOU can absolutely learn how to write a killer email pitch that not only gets opened by an influential editor but also gets a “hell YES!”

As a PR trainer and freelance journalist myself, I’ve seen it all. That’s why pitching is such a big part of my 1:1 PR sessions and ongoing training. Instead of just emailing journalists and expecting them to do all the hard work for you, I’m revealing all the secrets to landing media coverage.

And it starts with your email ‘pitch’.

First, introduce your idea

The first paragraph is crucial to get right. You need to get your idea and why YOU are the right person to deliver it across in 1-2 sentences.

Unless you are famous or known to the journalist, you won’t need to share your name immediately. Start by introducing your idea (we’ll talk about this in a moment) and, maybe, your job title.

If I was to pitch myself to write an article for a magazine, I could open my email with something like this…

I wondered if you would be interested in an article on ‘how to scale your business using free PR’ by the author of bestselling PR book Get a YES! from the press.

Dude, TMI

This is an initial pitch email to introduce you and your idea. At this stage, there is absolutely no need to divulge too much personal information or your entire life story.

Unless it is relevant to your pitch, try to refrain from sharing your back story that could rival the length of War and Peace. If you are pitching a real life story of which you have experienced then, of course, your thoughts are relevant.

After introducing your idea, the second paragraph of your email is where you can reveal more information the journalist may need to make a decision about publishing your idea.

I usually open with something along the lines of…

To give you a little background,

OR

To give you some more info,

By starting the sentence “to give you a little background”, I’m showing the recipient what to expect next. They can then read the info if they need to. 

Get to the point

Whilst there is no set rule on what will make the media say YES, (every media organisation will be looking for something different), there is one key thing we can do when we’re pitching to journalists. 

Nail your idea.

Plain and simple. Send a good idea. And have an actual point of reaching out to them. Not just a hello. 

Share a story idea not a topic

There is a big difference between a story and a topic.

An actual idea would be the title of the article you want to write. Saying you want to write on a topic is too broad and doesn’t give the journalist enough to go on.

Here’s an example of the difference between a topic and a story.

Topic: Business growth

vs

Story idea: How to use LinkedIn to gain inbound leads and never cold call again

Pitching business growth is such a broad topic with thousands of elements. The magazine wouldn’t know what you specialised in or what exactly you could write about. YOU have to do the work and give them an idea to say yes or no to. Don’t make them do all the work.

Make it easy to say yes or no 

You need your pitch to give the recipient everything they need to make their decision. Everything. If needs be, make a checklist or create a pitch template to work from ensuring you include all the key elements needed to wow every time.

Be clear what you want them to do next

Many editors and journalists receive pitches that are just an introduction to a business or a product. Yawn. That doesn’t tell them what they want them to do with your email.

If you emailed a magazine, they could be thinking…

Do you want their product in a gift round-up feature?
Were you wanting to be interviewed for the weekly ‘spotlight’ feature?
Or were they intending to write a how-to article for them?

Close your email by showing the journalist what you want them to do next and why you are contacting them.

When I’m pitching to journalists to write a magazine article for them, I will close my pitch with something like…

I would love to write this article for [magazine name]”

Then they know exactly why I am contacting them and can make a decision whether it’s the right fit for them.

Do your homework

Before reaching out to anyone, make sure you have researched your media outlets first. There is no point pitching a how-to article idea to magazines that never publish that type of article. Or pitching an interview idea to a podcast when they never have guests on the show.

No spammy attachments

When pitching to journalists, you may think it’s relevant to send a bunch of images with your email. More often than not, emails with large attachments can go straight into the SPAM folder so the journalist will never see it. And if it does land in their inbox, seeing large attachments could put them off opening it.

If images or additional information are relevant to the reason you’re emailing the journalist then adding a link to an online gallery can work really well.

Killer email subject line

Any good email needs a great subject line. It’s all very well creating a beautiful pitch but unless the subject line rocks, your pitch may not be seen.

I like to be really transparent and show that my email is a pitch and what it’s about, right from the get-go. 

Here are a few examples of subject lines that have resulted in media coverage for my clients…

  • Article idea: 10 brand reputation hacks for [magazine audience]
  • Pitch: Does Vitamin C really protect you against coronavirus?
  • Article idea: Ways to make money while baby sleeps
  • Story idea: What it feels like to [real-life story idea]

This allows busy editors to come back to the email when they’re ready to look at their pitches for that day. Plus it’s clearly labelled and not clickbait-y so the recipient knows exactly what it is.

Proofread it

We’ve all been there. An email gets sent with the wrong name or you forgot to change something after you copied and pasted it from the last one. While a template is helpful, be sure to tweak it each time for that particular media outlet.

And whatever you do, remember to proofread your email before you hit the send button.

Find the decision-maker

When you spend time putting yourself out there and contacting the media, you’ll need to make sure your efforts are noticed by the right people. That begins with sending your story idea to the right person.

Try to avoid generic email addresses like news@ or features@ as you don’t know who is looking at those inboxes or how often it’s being checked. 

Get your pitch directly in front of the decision-maker and send it to an actual person. 

Many media organisations will have a staff list on their website. If they don’t, you can have the name of an editor or journalist within seconds using LinkedIn or Twitter. Just search for their job title and media name, for instance, ‘Business Editor [newspaper name]’.

Pitching to journalists

Landing (and leveraging) media coverage can be a game changer for your business. My clients secure media placements from as soon as after our first call together. If you want to start seeing yourself in the media just click below to see how we can work together.

Why you shouldn’t hire a PR agency

Whilst I believe any business in any industry can benefit from media coverage, investing in a good PR agency is expensive. And actually requires work from you as a client. It certainly isn’t the answer for every company.

If any of the below sound familiar, hiring a PR agency, freelancer or publicist may not be the right fit for you…

1. You don’t want to do any of the work

The main challenge I have seen with clients over the years is not willing to be a part of the PR activity. You can’t hire a PR agency and then say “ok, good luck, call us when you get something”. You have to be available to brief your PR team and answer us FAST when we need something for a journalist.

Your company won’t magically appear in the press if your PR agency doesn’t know much about you, the inner workings of the business, or you never respond to them with the items they requested.

For instance, if you’re a tech company, your PR agency won’t be able to create quotes for the media because they don’t know the mechanics or science behind your products. You need to be around for them to get these quotes and answer the tech-y questions for them.

2. You want PR to save your business

I can’t tell you how many enquiries have come to me when they are on the brink of collapse or have hardly any money in the account – but they believe I can help them.

PR is amazing. I’ve built my entire life and business around it. But it isn’t going to save your business overnight. Media outreach needs to be done in the right frame of mind and not a “we’re in the pooper, we need PR NOW!” That mindset will never result in epic results. And also puts immense pressure on your PR agency to get quick results – which aren’t always the best.

If you engage a PR agency, you have to be in it for the long haul and not rely on overnight success and for it to instantly save your business.

3. You have absolutely nothing to say

With the best will in the world and the best PR agency, no one can flog a metaphorical dead horse. There has to be something or someone that the media want to write about.

Whilst it is the PR teams job to come up with new ideas, they still need something to work from. If you aren’t creating content or anything out of the ordinary then, even with PR help, journalists won’t print you.

4. You want to see results tomorrow

The first 3 months are crucial in a new agency relationship. A lot of planning and strategic thinking goes into planning out campaigns and getting to know your company.

PR teams will often be pitching to media organisations that won’t print you instantly. A magazine may say yes today but not publish your feature for another 6 months.

PR takes time. Like marketing activities, there are PR tactics that can see short term wins but these are the exception not the rule. Unless you have a story that is so drool-worthy and the entire nation needs to hear it, you’re probably going to have to be patient while your PR sets out their plan of action.

5. You hire a PR agency purely for who they know, not their ideas

Even a PR person with decades of experience and a Rolodex of contacts that would make Hollywood jealous, they still need time to have a newsworthy story about you. Just having contacts does not automatically mean you’re going to make the front pages. If you have no story, it doesn’t matter whom your PR agency knows, they won’t land any media coverage.

6. You think 1 newspaper mention should turn into 100 immediate sales

Appearing in the media won’t instantly result in a bunch of sales. (Sorry to pee on your potatoes there if you hoped it would!)

PR is the long game and all part of building your brand credibility and awareness. This goes back to the earlier point on being available for your PR firm. Once you appear somewhere in the media, a good PR person will guide you on how to leverage the PR opportunity. For instance, if your story hits certain websites, your PR agency would guide you on how to share this across social media, your newsletter, your website etc and how to get even more people to see it.

A PR agency’s job is to land epic media coverage. They are not in charge of your sales department. If your media coverage gets people to your website but the site is poor and doesn’t give the user what they want then, yes, you may then lose a sale.

7. You probably won’t implement anything your PR agency asks you to

I’ve had many clients in the past not do any of the things I advised and then wonder why the sales didn’t come in or why a campaign “wasn’t as successful as they hoped”.

Before hiring a person or agency to manage your PR you have to be committed fully internally and work with them to create an epic campaign.

How to be quoted in the media as an expert

Featuring in the media as an incredible way to boost your credibility. An amazing way to start appearing in the press (and actually one of the easiest PR strategies) is to provide an ‘expert comment’ and jump in on a story the media is already writing about.

First of all, ‘experts’ are coined this by those that follow them or read or watch them speak. It isn’t a title that you need to give yourself and I actually wouldn’t necessarily recommend it either. Other people make the decision that you have some expertise and will see you as an expert after seeing you speak, reading your book or reading your opinion on something.

Your dream clients may see you on the tele box and think “Wow this is someone I need to listen to”.

And even if they don’t see your media opportunity immediately when it’s published, a media strip of well-known logos in an ‘As Seen In’ image is always going to make an impact on those landing on your website.

You may also like to read: How to be invited on TV as an industry expert’.

I get asked a lot about how to get an expert comment mentioned in the media so here’s how to easily make it happen for you or your colleagues…

1. Focus on 1-3 topics 

Brainstorm the topics or campaigns you can (or want to) talk about. To keep things simple, whittle the list down to your favourite 1-3 key topics.  That could be ones you want to be known for or those that you know your ideal customers or audience would be keen to hear about.

Having a focus for your PR efforts will enable you to stay on track with your messages and so you aren’t trying to manage 15 messy campaigns at once. Less is more after all.

2. Do your homework

Start researching media, producers and journalists that work for the media organisations you want to appear in. Get their email address and keep it in a safe spot for later. Try not to add random people to your list, it’s about quality over quantity and 20 journalists that currently write about your specialist subjects and could be inetrested in your story is WAY more valuable than 500 random names to blast irrelevant news to.

3. Set a goal and make a plan

Keep yourself accountable with a plan of action and a few goals. My grandad always taught me to make a plan and work backwards. So start with the big goal then break it down into smaller goals in a timeline.

So if you know you need to get some media wins in soon, state an amount and set a date by it. Then pencil in time in your diary to take action and make it happen.

4. Proactive vs reactive PR

Consider whether you will be proactive or reactive in your approach. Both have different strategies and activities you would focus on.

Being proactive would include you cold pitching a brand new idea to someone who isn’t expecting it. Reactive would be reacting live to current media stories and jumping in on the conversation with the aim of getting your quote published in a journalists next piece about the story.

Personally I like a good mix and always make notes on both how I’ll react to news stories and who I’ll proactively approach with the ideas.

Kerri L Watt | Rising Tide Media

5. Introduce yourself

When you reach out to journalists, remember to actually give them something to go by. Try to avoid just a “Hi, I’m here if you need me” email. Yawn.

A stranger doesn’t owe you anything and isn’t going to bust their butt to find a place for you in their newspaper if you can’t show them you know who their audience is or given them an example of what you can say or write about. Do the work for them and tell them how you can help them by mentioning potential topics for your expert comment.

SUPER MEGA PR TIP: This is your opportunity to showcase you’ve done your homework and are a good fit for them and their audience – don’t just copy and paste a War and Peace length CV!

6. Check out who else is covering the story

Google certain keywords around your topics of expertise and then click the ‘news’ tab to see what is currently in the media. You can then use this as an opportunity to reach out to the writers of those pieces and offer yourself as an expert to comment should they write any follow-up pieces.

7. Keep a record

Once you’ve started putting together a list of potential media organisations to contact, it’s ideal to pop them into a spreadsheet.

List of all your media contacts with their contact details, the date you contacted them and what you offered them e.g. an expert comment on a particular news story that broke that morning.

Keeping a note of why you reached out is immensely helpful for future reference if you want to contact them again.

TECHY PR TIP: Google Docs and Sheets are great for this because you can pick it up on your phone, laptop, computer, basically anywhere with internet access. If, like me, you work across multiple devices this is amazing to only have it stored on one hard drive.

8. Shout out on social 

Shout out on social media, especially Twitter, that you are available to offer comments on particular topics (or a specific story if the media are talking about it today), add your email address and use any relevant hashtags to the topic.

This  one is great for boosting your credibility with your audience because they’ll start to see you as an authority figure as well as having the bonus of getting in front of journalists.

 

How to nail your upcoming media interview

Whether immediately or just before you go live, it’s totally natural for the nerves to kick in at any point after confirming a media interview. You worked really hard to secure this media opportunity and it’s easy for that to take your attention rather than the outcome of the interview itself and what it will do for your company.

The main thoughts I see from companies attending my media training days is often…

  • What the heck do I wear?
  • What if I say the wrong thing?
  • What if I look like an idiot?
  • What if I don’t have an answer for their question?

It’s easy to get overwhelmed by the thought of appearing in the media and worrying about things like what to wear or that you’ll look silly can take over the incredible opportunity. Devouring training tips for a media interview may seem like something for the celebs but, in reality, a quick research sesh on how to conduct yourself or what to focus on is a game changer.

Ideally you want to turn up to your media interview; whether on TV, radio or an informal phone call with a journalist for a piece they are writing; calm, relaxed and ready to put your point across.

I’ve collated 10 top tips for you to prepare for your next media interview.

1. Know your ‘key message’ 

It’s easy to get consumed thinking about what not to say in an interview so a good way to spin this into a more positive light is to focus on what you do want to get across. You can do this by writing down one key message that you want to be mentioned. That could be a certain fact or news that must be shared and potentially is the whole point of why you are having this interview. Each time an interviewer then asks a question, you can look for opportunities to stay on topic and bring your answers back to that key message.

If your interview is over the telephone or via video call, you can write your key message on a post-it note or piece of paper in front of you to keep it front of mind.

2. Take a deep breath

Right before your media interview, take time to clear your mind and breathe deeply.  Turn your phone and any devices off, step away from your computer and just allow yourself to be present with your thoughts.

 

3. When you get stuck 

When faced with a question you don’t feel appropriate, avoid saying things such as “but that’s not what I’m here to talk about” and “that’s not important, what is important is…”

It is possible to move the conversation along on to a point that you want to make and then communicate your message.

Phrases like “and that brings me on to…” or “it’s the same when…” are great ways to go from addressing a topic but moving back to the points you want to get across (your key message). Even one-word additions to your sentence such as ‘interestingly’ and ‘also’ will help get back on track.

 

4. Have a few statistics to handRadio Studio

Powerful statistics can be useful to a journalist as they will then have the appropriate evidence to support mentioning your key messages you get across.

Too many statistics will create confusion so 1-2 is often enough. The more figures are thrown at your interviewer, the more chance there is for one of them to be published incorrectly.

5. Believe in yourself

You’ve been chosen for this interview for a reason, the media want to talk to you about your news or to hear your opinion on a topic. Whilst it’s easier said than done when faced with a camera staring at you, but try to be relaxed not be too nervous.

It’s amazing how quickly you will feel comfortable when you’re there with the team looking after you. Believe in what you are saying and your confidence will ensure viewers or readers believe you too.

6. It’s ok if you don’t know the answer

Whatever you are asked, always tell the truth. Whilst you don’t have to divulge everything in your business, anything you do say should be the truth. If you don’t know the answer to a question simply say so or say something along the lines of “you’ll have to talk to our marketing department for that information as I haven’t been involved with that project”.

If asked about a statistic or fact that you are unsure of, or perhaps need a little more time to think on, then a response of “I don’t have that figure in front of me but I’ll dig them out and get back to you” would be ideal. Make sure you then send them when you said you will.

When faced with a question you really don’t want to answer or don’t know the answer to avoid saying the famous “no comment” as this comes across that you refused to answer the question or have something to hide.

7. Take a minute

It is easy to forget a question when your nerves take over as you start to respond. If you need to pause, just stop. It will only take a few seconds for you to gather your thoughts again and give a more powerful response. 

8. Speak clearly

Try not to rush through any of your answers while in a media interview. Journalists may be writing notes as well as any recordings so ensure you speak clearly and slowly enough for them to understand precisely what you have said so their final write up of your interview is written correctly.

TV Interview9. Be aware of leading & hypothetical questions

A leading question is one where you would be asked: “Isn’t it true to say this has become a huge concern for customers and a disaster for your reputation?” It would be easy to use their words here to respond with “I wouldn’t say this is a disaster for us but clearly it has caused problems for our customers”.

Quoting their negative words in your response with ‘disaster’ and ‘huge concern’ as part of your answer will not go in your favour as you accept the issues by including them in response. Instead of repeating their negative words.

In this example, ideally your response would be, “Our safety policies are constantly reviewed and our safety team are currently working hard on.”

It’s also best to not get pulled into hypothetical questions and things that haven’t happened and you don’t have to answer this if you don’t want to. Be very careful of these hypothetical questions because your answer could be the journalist’s headline of a news story.

Example of a hypothetical question would be “What if another more people at the hotel contract food poisoning?” or “What if someone was to die from the recent outbreak of food poisoning at your hotel?”

In your response, remember to bring in your key message and phrase your answer with positive wording. For instance, “We pride ourselves on taking health and safety extremely serious. We have investigated the recent incident confirming it as an accident and will continue to regularly review our safety procedures.”

If your interview is in response to a recent incident, you will no doubt be able to anticipate the journalist’s questions and prepare for these in advance too.

10. Now be patient 

It is easy to want to see write up of your interview before it is printed but unless the journalist offers to send it to you then you will have to wait until it is in print or published online.

Keep on the journalist’s good side by gracefully waiting and not pestering them to review your interview. You never know, they could need you for another story or an expert comment in the future, so it’s important to keep them on your side and show how wonderful you are to work with.